• B.A. in Screenwriting

    Write in a variety of art forms by exploring story structure and character development

» B.A. in Screenwriting

“And the winner for best original screenplay is…

If you see yourself someday writing a Hollywood blockbuster or a breakthrough indie film, collaborating with a team of writers on a sitcom, or have imagined yourself accepting an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay or an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series, then Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts is an excellent place to pursue your passion and hone your skills.

Our intensive undergraduate screenwriting degree is designed specifically to help fledgling screenwriters like you develop your individual creativity as you explore the intricacies of story structure and character development. You’ll work one-on-one with an outstanding faculty of Hollywood screenwriters with many years of experience in both film and television — and many awards on their shelves. And you’ll learn to write in a variety of art forms — short film and feature-length, episodic television and mini-series.

But just because we teach structure, we’re not bound by it. After all, too much structure often translates into predictability. Instead, we take a holistic approach to screenwriting with an emphasis on visual storytelling, as we help you find your own voice, sharpen your own personal sensibilities and hone your skills. And you’ll have ample opportunity to develop your skills — writing, shooting, and editing your own short films as well as contributing to the works of your fellow students. At the end of your four years, you’ll leave here with at least two finished scripts to share with the Hollywood insiders you’ve come to know through your time at Dodge.

+ - You'll Study

Along with a broad liberal arts education, you’ll gain a fundamental understanding of the key components of screenwriting, including:

  • How to create and develop compelling characters
  • How to create emotional moments and story beats
  • How to write believable dialogue
  • How setting and production design fulfill vital roles in storytelling
  • The history of film as an art form, industry and cultural phenomenon
  • The essential elements of film, including basic cinematography, lighting, editing, and sound recording
  • The acting process as seen through script analysis, scene study and acting exercises
  • Managing the audience’s emotional involvement in a story

+ - Learning Outcomes

In mastering the curriculum of the B.A. in Screenwriting, students will gain competence in the following areas:

1. Foundational skills and storytelling tools: visual writing, screenplay format, dramatic scenes, exposition, time management, motifs (planting and payoff), dramatic Irony, telegraphing, dangling causes

2. Character issues: characters drawn from life, fully-dimensional characters, character arc, economical, fresh, character-specific dialogue, effective character entrances

3. Personal vision: development of a personal vision/distinctive voice, how this is expressed through theme

4. Feature screenplay issues: three act and eight sequence structures, notions of main tension, culmination and resolution

+ - Degree Requirements

Core Requirements (39 credits)

SW 127*

Screenwriting Intensive

SW 128**

Character Analysis for Writers

FTV 130

Introduction to Visual Storytelling

FTV 140/140L

Introduction to Film Aesthetics/Introduction to Film Aesthetics Lab

FS 244/244L*

History of Film to 1959/History of Film to 1959 Screening Lab

FS 245/245L**

History of Film 1960–Present/History of Film 1960– Present Screening Lab

SW 257

Storytelling Strategies (enroll in SW 277 the same semester)

SW 277*

Feature Screenwriting I

SW 287**

Feature Screenwriting II

SW 326

Writing the Adaptation

TWP 328

Seminar in Television Writing

SW 498

Screenwriting Thesis (two semesters)

three-upper division elective courses (9 credits)

Electives include all courses offered by the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts

*offered fall semester only
**offered spring semester only

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